Viewshed Protection Study Status Report

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pat6;tiflay 23,2D06


County of Santa Clara
Department of Planning and Development

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Planning Office




PLN04 052306
Prepared by: Kavitha Kumar
Planner in

Jim Reilly

Planner in

Reviewed by; Bill Shoe
Principal Planner

May 23, 2006


Board of Supervisors

Valentin Alexeeff

Director, Department of Planning and Development
SUBJECT: Viewshed Protection Study Status Report


1. Accept status report relating to the Viewshed Protection Study.
2. Consider the following options as alternatives to the current schedule and previous direction
to staff:

a. Continue in accordance with preliminary recommendations and schedule approved by
the Board in 2005, but limit initial extent of any new Design Review zoning districts to
the primary viewshed (lands immediately visible from valley floor up to approximately
2 miles);

Bdand of Supetvisors: Donald F. Gage, Blanca:Alrarado, Pete: McHughj Jim;Beall, Lizl<2ijss:
County Executive: Peter Kutras Jr.



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b. Adopt no further Design Review zoning districts other than those already in existence,
but require Design Review as a prerequisite for development of any new residence over
a certain size, or for any accessory building over a certain size, perhaps coupled with a
standard Light Reflectivity Value limit,

c. Postpone or cease further actions or preparations concerning the Viewshed Study in
light of the possible passage of the land use ballot Initiative and its proposed "Visual
Safeguards" provisions regarding rural development,
d. Continue the Viewshed Study and expand the study area to potentially include all those
areas that would be affected by passage of the Initiative, i.e., Ranchlands, Hillsides, and
Agriculture-Large Scale areas that are visible from public places such as roads and


No new impact to the General Fund. Potential staff resource impacts of implementing actions
were addressed in a previous report Febmary 7, 2006.

Not applicable.

1. This status report updates the Board of Supervisors regarding public and community
outreach conducted to date. It also provides information regarding the work
components on which staff will focus during the months of May, June, and July to
develop draft policies, ordinances, and standards as described to date in the prelimuiary
recommendations the Board accepted on August 31,2005 at its land use workshop.
2. In fulfillment of the approved schedule for the Viewshed Protection work plan item,
staff conducted three major community outreach meetings in late March of 2006. These
were intended primarily to solicit input from affected property owners, following a
series of smaller stakeholder meetings. The speaker comments, survey results, and other
input received at the meetings are described in the Background section of this
transmittal and attachments (Attachment A: Speaker Comments from March 2006
Community Meetings and Attachment B: Survey Results).

Board of Supervisors; Donald; F. Gage, Blanca Alvarado, Pete McHugh;, Jim Beall; LizKniss
CountjrExecutlve: Peter Kutras Jr.




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3. Unless otherwise directed, staff will continue in accord with the previous direction

provided by the Board and schedule approved in 2005. In response to various public
input, ongoing evaluation of the project, and budget factors, this report presents no staff

reconuhendation for changes to the project, other than that if the Board directs staff to
continue as previously directed, staff recommends the initial application of any new
design review zoning for viewshed protection be limited to the primary viewshed and
areas most immediately visible from the valley floor.
4. Since the Board last gave staff formal direction on the Viewshed Study in 2005, a ballot
Initiative has been submitted which contains similar provisions to those involved in the

Viewshed Study. The "Visual Safeguards" provisions of the Initiative are contained in
Section 16 of the Initiative (Attachment C). It is likely that the schedule for completing

public hearings for the Viewshed Study will comcide closely with the November

election. If the Initiative passes, and Viewshed Study recommendations are adopted,
there will be some overlapping and some inconsistent policy provisions and
implementation measures between the two. Staff will present maps of the potentially

affected areas based on vantage points from public roads and parks, as described in the



Review of Major Issues Raised in Community Meetings
Community meetings for property owner and public input were held March 23, 28, and 30,
2006. Summaries of the speaker comments were previously conveyed to the Board of

Supervisors off-agenda. They are also attached. Staff also presented an mformal survey to

which attendees could respond. Results of this survey are also summarized m an attachment.

Most of the speakers and survey respondents were opposed to the Viewshed Protection Study.
The most commonly conveyed objection was to any new regulations above and beyond what
currently exists. Others expressed the opinion that the Viewshed Study should not be
continued, that there was no significant "problem" that needed to be solved, and that the basic
premises of the study and existing policies regarding scenic resource protection are either
invalid or should not be the County's priority for land use matters.

Regarding the viewshed mapping analyses that have been done to identify potentially affected
parcels, there were a variety of concerns expressed:

Board of Supervisors: Donald F. Gage, Blanca AivaradOi Pete; McHugh; Jim Beall,. Liz Kniss

CountjiT Executive: Peter Kutras Jr.







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• the need to account for the mitigating effect of distance from the valley floor;

• that for many parcels beyond the primary viewshed, only the uppermost elevations of
those parcels are visible (and only from significant distances) locations where it is
unlikely there will be additional building;
• that for some parcels on lower elevations, such as those near the intersection of
Watsonville Road along Hecker Pass Highway, parcels identified as in the lowest
visibility ratings are actually not visible from the valley areas due to intervemng sight
obstructions, trees, and undulating terrain; and

• the need to consider exemption of lots either entirely not visible from the valley floor or
exemptions from any regulations for sites within those lots not visible from the valley

Another concern commonly voiced mcluded the cumulative effect of new regulations with

those already applicable to residential development in hillsides. Property owners described the
incremental or additive effect of more regulation as having an overall detrimental impact to

property value, because perceptions of the difficulties of obtaining building site approval or
other permits have an effect on the sale of real estate. Owners also expressed concerns about
the particular costs to them of complying with possible new regulations, as well as the
possibility that new regulations could drive down property values, reduce general fimd
revenues for the Comity and school districts, and further reduce services.

Another theme of public comment was the desire to have more services or better services,
particularly pubhc safety and law enforcement, given the current response times and service
levels. Many owners stated that they spend considerable amounts of their own time to clear
drainage culverts, remove roadway obstacles, and perform other maintenance for rural roads.
Lastly, many thought that illegal building activity will only tend to increase, given that the
cost of obtaining building site approvals and building permits for many already lies beyond
their financial reach.

Staff has attempted to report in various ways as fully as possible the discussions of the

Stakeholder Committee and the input at community meetings. Please refer to the attachments
to this transmittal for additional information. This summation is not intended to recapitulate
public comment received to date in its full detail and entirety. Staff has also attached the
Position Paper" of the Santa Clara County Hillside Association that has been distributed

through the organization's website and at all the public and community meetings to date
(Attachment D).

Board of Supervisors: Donald F. Gage.Btanca Alvarado. Pete McHugh, Jim Beall; LfeKhiss
County Executive: Peter Kutras Jr.




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a05 Agenda Date :fclay 23,2006

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General Responses to Issues Raised

The purpose of County policies and regulations concerning visual and environmental impacts
of hillside development is to allow reasonable use and development of private property, while
moderating or mitigating visual impacts of new development, particularly for potentially very
large and highly visible stmctures. Staff is considering ways of providing incentives and
guidelines for appropriate design and to communicate the County's expectations, to address

reasonable concerns of neighboring residents, and related goals. Staff acknowledges that there

be quite a diversity of opinion on the subject of the aesthetics of development, whether

and how to address it through regulations, and to what level of detail.

It is fairly common for cities and counties to address such matters in their general plans and
ordinances. Most of the cities within Santa Clara County have developed some form of

policies and regulations to exphcitly deal with visual impacts of hillside development. These
provisions are mostly in response to subdivisions, road development, grading, and single site
development that have occurred in the past and which appeared to have had some easily
avoidable impacts. Visual impact regulations and policies typically evolve over time m
response to such situations and the prospect of additional, larger developments over time. The
County to date has only considered design review zoning in a small portion of the viewshed

including limited hillside areas adjacent to certain cities.

As to the legal and policy basis for visual impact regulation, it is within the local land use
authority of cities and counties, often referred to as the "police powers by the courts, to
establish policy and regulate for the general public health, safety and welfare. The Supreme
Court has established that regulation of the aesthetics of development falls within the

regulatory authority of local jurisdictions. Consequently, if local elected officials find there is
adequate policy basis for what they conceive to be reasonable regulation, it is within their
authority to adopt standards or regulations to achieve those aims.

Where design review zoning has been applied to umncorporated hillsides of Santa Clara
County to date, the right to build a new home on an existing legal lot has not been denied on
the basis of failure to gain Design Review approval. A residence would remam a use

permitted as a matter of right under the Zoning Ordinance, subject to obtaining Building Site
Approval and other prerequisites. The County's development regulations for single building
sites require that the owner obtain site approval and constmct various improvements prior to
Board; of Sypetvisors; DonaldJ. Gage* Blanca; Aterado, Pete McHugh Jim Beall, UzKniss
County Executive: Peter Kutras Jr.








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issuance of a building permit, if the parcel is not an approved building site.

These site approval regulations and requirements are fully based on issues of public health,
safety, and welfare to ensure that the parcel meets current requirements to be improved for .
residential use. Approved building sites must be able to provide improvements such as septic
systems, wells or water systems, roads, turnarounds, and driveways, water supply tanks and

other standards. These improvements can be costly, particularly if an access road or driveway
is long, needs supporting retaining walls, and grade improvements. With the costs of having

plans drawn by an engineer and/or architect, the need for geologic reports, and other aspects
of development, conforming to standards and obtaining building permits can be a significant
challenge, whether one is an experienced developer or an individual owner. Construction costs
are ever increasing, as are the costs of compliance. The challenges can be exacerbated the
more remote, steep, smaller, or problematic the lot, and by owner preferences to at times

select a building site that is considerably more expensive and challenging than alternatives
might be. The County can and should review its development review processes to help
property owners achieve development approvals, and it is presently doing so, but it should not'
do so by relaxing or eliminating fundamental standards.

As to the potential costs to the County, whether the Viewshed Study recommendations are
adopted or the Initiative passes, there will be some additional administrative and enforeement •
costs. The Initiative's potential costs for implementation are unknown but will be significantly
more than those projected from the Viewshed Study, as the Initiative addresses significantly
more subjects. With regard to the prospect of significantly reduced property values, and
impacts to County General Fund revenues, staff believes that Design Review zoning where it
has been implemented to date has not had such an effect on overall property values. The
overall impaet to the General Fund even if some reduction occurred would be slight, given
that the proportion of total assessed value derived from rural unincorporated lands is relatively

Options for Continuing with the Viewshed Study
At this juncture, unless otherwise directed, staff will continue with the work outlined in the
schedule approved by the Board in October 2005. However, based on public input, issues
presented by the the Land Use Initiative, and staffs evaluation of these various factors, this
report presents for the Board's consideration the following options:

Board of Supervisors: Donald F. Gage, Bianca Alvarado, Pete McHugh, Jim Beall, UzKnlss
County Executive: Peter Kutras Jr.











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1. Continue in accordance with preliminary recommendations to adopt design review

zoning for viewshed areas, in addition to the other proposals, but consider limiting
design review zoning to the primary viewshed (parcels most immediately visible from
valley floor) for effectiveness and reduced cost.

2. An alternative would be to adopt no frirther design review zoning districts other than
those which already exist, but require design review as a prerequisite for development

of any new residence over a certain size, or for any accessory building over a certain
size, perhaps coupled with a universally applicable light reflectivity value (LRV) limit.
This option would leave existing DR zoning districts, as they are without changes.
3. Either postpone or discontinue further actions or preparations in. light of the possible
passage of the Initiative and its proposed "Visual Safeguards" regulations regarding
rural development. Once November election results are. known, the County will be in a
better position to evaluate how to proceed with various recommendations of the
Viewshed Study.

4. Continue the Viewshed Study and consider expandmg the study area to include all
those areas that would be affected by passage of the Initiative, i.e., Hillsides,
Ranchlands, and Agriculture-Large Scale areas that are visible from public places such
as roads and parks.

To illustrate the areas potentially affected by the provisions of the Initiative, staff will prepare
a GIS map analysis for its presentation. It represents areas visible from publicly-accessible
parks, rural scenic roads as defined in the General Plan and Zoning Ordinance, and from all
freeways, expressways, and state routes like 152, 35y and 9.
The amount of land area and number of parcels affected could vary greatly depending on how
the Board wishes to define the viewshed. The use of vantage points along major roads, local

scenic roads, and public parks greatly expands the areas subject to potential regulation.
Potential costs to County to administer design review and related Initiative provisions for
visual safeguards would be more than estimated previously for Viewshed Study. How much is
uncertain, depending on amount of building in more remote rural areas.

With regard to options for managing ridgeline development, staff will provide the Board with
options based on current policy and the following information:

Board of Supervisors; Donald F.;.Gagej Blanca Atarado, Pete McHugh, Jim Beall, Liz Kniss
County Executive: Peter Kotras Jt^.























1. Ridgelines are often ridge "areas," not steeply sloped spines or spurs of mountainous
areas. They can afford the most stable, optimal, and least visually obtrusive location,
depending on how access is taken or to reduce grading.
2. Staff mapped identified ridgelines along with areas of steep slope to illustrate that in
many hillside areas of this county, slopes range from 30 to 70 %. On some parcels, the
ridge area may evidence the least slope. The County discourages building on steep
slopes through its Building Site Approval (BSA) regulations and Grading Ordinance
provisions, not to mention septic system requirements.
3. On a parcel by parcel basis, a ridge area may be more suitable than alternatives, if no
relatively flat non-ridge or hilltop areas exist. That said, current gradiag policy would
not promote or allow any amount of gradmg for roads or other improvements simply to
allow use of the highest or most distant part of a property for a buildmg site.
4. In various hillside areas of the county, there are numerous existing homes located on

ridgelines and ridge areas. Discussions of potential policy that would prohibit such
locations has raised concerns about the ability to rebuild in the event of a casualty.

Work Product Components

During May through July, unless otherwise directed, staff will produce the following
components or building "blocks" of work:
1. Draft supporting General Plan policies for rural hillside development addressing
grading and terrain alteration, visual impacts and use of design review, guidelines and
expectations, and options for ridgeline development policies. Also included would be
pohcie’s regarding rebuilding existing structures, and related topics. [Rural Growth and
Development chapter. Strategy 3, new section]
2. Draft modifications to existing Scenic Resource section policies of the Resource
Conservation chapter for consistency with above.

3. Prepare draft design review ordinances for affected areas, including tiered review
concepts, new standards, and associated guidelines.
4. Prepare draft modifications for all design review districts and projects, including
changes to exemptions, simplification of floor area definitions, "design-friendly

modifications to allow architectural features and treatments that enhance design and

minimize apparent bulk, retaining wall provisions, etc.

5. Prepare draft ordinances for zoning changes to implement "-d" design review zoning
for affected areas.

Board of.Supetvisors: Donald F. Gage, Blanca Alyaradd, Pete McHugh. Jim Beall, Uz Kiilss

Count/Executive: Peter Kutras Jr.


















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6. Prepare draft landscaping provisions/ordinance in consultation with FMO.
7. Prepare draft CEQA documentation for all proposed policy and regulatory changes,
staff reports, maps, and presentations.
8. Tentatively schedule Planning Commission hearings for August 2006, Board of

Supervisors hearings for September to October.
9. Provide regular quarterly off-agenda reports to the Board as required by work plan and
post draft documents to Planning Office website.

Staff will continue with these work efforts unless directed otherwise or directed to include

additional components or alternatives.

In conclusion, staff offers the following information and review;

1. Countywide urban growth management policies and the current density policies of
General Plan for rural areas are the two most effective strategies for preserving the

generally natural appearance of hillsides surrounding the urbanized areas. As described
in the April 2005 report to the Board, these are the cornerstone strategies of the Open
Space element of the General Plan, in cooperation with the cities and Local Agency
Formation Commission of Santa Clara County. They prevent fiirther urban expansion

by cities into these hillside areas, and they effectively manage subdivision of mral
lands. Minimum lot sizes presently are such that additional subdivision in the hillside

areas of concern is relatively infrequent, and in the Hillside designation, subdivision is

most often clustered with 90% or more of the land being preserved in permanent open

2. Controls over single site development for visual and environmental impacts can also be
effective, but should not be so restrictive as to preclude reasonable use and

development or deprive property owners of all economic value. Where design review
zoning in hillsides has been applied to date, such as the West Valley hills, and Santa
Teresa Ridge areas, it provides the County with a measure of discretionary approval

authority to evaluate proposed designs, require moderate landscaping, and discourages
monolithic design, among other matters. The proposals for tiered review, minor
changes to light reflectivity standards, and other related proposals would improve
effectiveness of design review while allowing moderate size homes to obtain approvals
in less time and without public hearings. Approval requirements and standards for the

Board: of Superiflsors: Donaid F. Gag8,Blanca.Alvarado,..PetB McHugh, Jim Beall,.Liz Kniss

CoUntii'Executive: Peter Kutras JL







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^B08 Agencta'D^te :May 23^ 2006







largest, most visible homes and sites could be effectuated through a third tier of review,
if desired, with most homes between approximately 5,000 to 10,000 square feet
undergoing standard design review processes.

3. Proposed policy sections of the General Plan will provide an improved basis for
Grading Ordinance implementation, findings, and approvals, as well as the provisions
for single building sites with slopes of 30% or more.

gonseoufncf.s of negative action

If the Board directs staff to postpone or cease work plan efforts regarding the Viewshed

Study, some land use controls for visual impact mitigation would be effectuated through


of the Initiative, if approved. However, a majority of, but not all viewshed areas are

covered by the Initiative, and many of the proposed improvements to standards, policies, and

procedures would not necessarily be implemented.

Clerk of the Board will provide a record of the Board's actions to the Planning Office for its



• Attachment A: Speaker Comments from March 2006 Community Meetings
• Attachment B; Survey Results

• Attachment C: "Visual Safeguards" - Land Use Initiative

• Attachment D: Position Paper - Santa Clara County Hillside Association

Board of Supervisors: Donaid F. Gage, Blat\ca Alvarado,. Pete McHugh,.Jim Beall, Liz Khiss
Courtty Executive: Peter Kutras Jr.


Santa Clara County

Planning Office

Viewshed Protection Study
Community Meetings

Summaries of Speaker Comments;
March 23, 2006
March 28, 2006
March 30,2006


3/23/06 Viewshed Protection Community Meeting Summary

County Government Center, Board of:Supervisor Chambers

Speaker. Comments:

Jay Arthurs
• Live on Bohlman Road,Saratoga hills. Long time resident, 60 years, property

represents my nest egg

Over time, we remodeled with permits.

Viewshed study represents the rights of the valley floor over rights of hillside
property owners.

Paul Arpin

In my view density equals instant sprawl.

The viewshed study should never exist. It downgrades values, and is trampHng on
people's rights.

Doug Lockie

Property in Los Gatos and Saratoga hiUs.

I have 2lots, 10 acres. It represents my life savings, and regulation is an emotional

House size limits would be too unfair..

Gary Hurst

Lives in Three Springs subdivision, east hillsides. 1984. Has homeowners

association. Often causes litigation over CCRs.
No one has a right to a view unless you buy it.
Study has no legality.
Architectural control can be a "can of worms." Will be for County what it is for

subdivision property owners.
It's unfair and discriminatory.

David Ritchie

I have a house in Los Gatos shielded by trees. If so shielded, will it be further

Mostly nice houses in hills, and present no visual problem. Problem is houses all

look too much the same. We need rules to encomage differing architecture, not
stifling rules.

Rick Moncrief

Wanted to take an open mind into process. Staff task is hard one. Need to do the
right thing, not just what is legal.
But with past hearings, such as the Trails plan hearings,I felt railroaded. So I am
Need to address financial impact to property owner.

Steve Madsen

Third generation owner of 8 acres on Loma Chiquita, near summit. Spiritual ties
to that land.



• ' "Legal land theft" is what I call it,being squeezed out of your property by permit
costs and regulations.
• The glare oflights from development in.the valley is more offensive.
Earl Haller

Don't envy staff your job. I'm losing hope of being able to afford building on my

Majority of audience notified by Hillside Association, not County,
Need to clarify whether home can be rebuilt.

Evan Piercy, with Hillside Property Owners Assocation
• Restrictions always have the possibility of affecting property value.
• Need to balance property rights with viewshed interests

Planning Dept, should focus on matters of public health and safety, not visual


Rebuilding policy, need to make mention of it in presentation.
All over the world, hillsides are desirable building locations.

County should be concerned with camouflaging" homes

It's very expensive to build in the County as it is.

If you don't like what you look at in the lulls, look away.

Maren Madsen

Property has been in family 100 years. Who has the right to tell us what we can do

It's too bad that Silicon Valley ruined the orchards.

with it?

Debbie Lockie

I visited East Germany once, and experienced their freedom from communism.
We are so fortunate as Americans.
This is encroaching communism. Our dream house may never be realized.

Joyce Steinfield

I am an artist who lives in a hillside area. Aesthetics are relative.

A house is a major investment and should not be over regulated.
We live in an urban area, so how can the hiUs be all green?

Gordon Chace

County attacked his property for trails.
People have rights to be respected.

Ron Wagner

Devil is in the details. Much potential for abuse. Well meaning regulations can
morph out of control and have unintended consequences.
Allow time for feedback in developing or implementing regulations.

What are our protections if we feel taken advantage of? I have a parcel in the hills,

can't see it. I had two diseased trees, which I understood I could remove, after

looking at ordinances. 1 was accused by Planning staff of illegally cutting trees,
violating the ordinance. Had to pay arborists fees, legal fees, and $5,0.00 fines, but
was vindicated in the end.



The Open Space Initiative, all lands outside a building envelope wUl be under

Need flexibility if ive don't have lots visible form the valley.


Frank Crane



How did aU this start?. Seems the Board has gotten carried away.
Real estate broker and concerned about "eroded" property rights.
Viewshed would seem to be something sacred.for valley residents,not the hillside

It's too expensive to build now as it is.

Charles Davis

County shoiild notify everyone.
I've invested in several properties and future value wiU be affected.

As to tree removal for fire safety, don't create or worsen fire hazard with

We should respect individuality.

landscaping requirements

This-should be put on the ballot and put to a vote of the property owner,

County instead should focus on public safety and building code compliance.

Tom Herbst

Mt. Loma Prieta resident concerned abut not being able to rebuild. If so, thats a


Hans Johsens

Viewshed is a two way street. There are lots of lights and deveopment down in the

Should meet in our neighborhood. Lakeside Community center is a possible
meeting site.
We don't want new regulations, and don't think County should be concerned with


camouflaging issues.

Fire hazard risks need defensible space, not more landscaping.
Hillside owners feel discriminated against—it's just wrong.

Impacts of viewshed regulations lower property values, more illegal construction
and declining assessments and budget for our school.
population, and only 8%
Most owners are opposed. The County has 1.7 millionabsurd
on its face.
are not in cities. The viewshed is discriminatory and

C. Gortner

Supports open space, but study won't benefit everyone. Views give property
value and we have to buy those views. Why is County not focusing on parks?
Study is in the spirit of "eminent domain."

It has a misplace focus, and where is the compensation?

Alien Baumgartner

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What will happen in owners ignore county rules? There is a lot of illegal buiidmg
in the hills, and grading violations going on.
How wiU County enforce regulations and what is budgeted for it?


Why^da Wes have to be so big?. I'm not in favor of monster homes,but believe

there is a balance.

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. New massive homes will get built and block my view, affecting my
value. Would like there to be some moderation,

Manuel Austin

Los Gatos hills owner

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v- n
The Board of Supervisors is off course, and this

charged issue.

Regulations will deter building and affect values. and we will ,
follow through.
We will take a poUtical stance, we will hire lawyers,

Mike Achkar

My site approval took two years.

Experienced significant resistance from neighbors.

Clarence Stone

Issue is very personal to all of us.

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. Our mailing hst is from the Assessor's lists. Sent notices to all hiEside o^wners we

could identify while County has not fully decided how many will be affected.

Kris Tarabetz

East foothills resident




I live on a ridge. Have endured the WUhamson Actbattks.
I don't want a mansion, but do want to do a good job with my development.

Homes are getting bigger and more outrageous.

I'd like to see hillsides preserved. Property values have only mcreased.
Need to promote considerate development respectful of others rights

We need to focus on what's reasonable and do what s right.

Enforce what you already have on the books.

the hillsides.
. Development is a cancer on the valley floor. Don't let it spreadontomvestment.
Why must we focus solely on maxunizmg profits and return
. Importance of developing responsibly and that doesn't have to be an eyesore to
the community.

, , .u
• I have 40 acres on Sierra Road, and can only build on

Nothing will be gained by putting more restrictions on hillsides, as most
developed hills are in cities.

an ordeal. We don't want
these rules thrown on us.
j i

Took four years to get a house built. More taxes, more regulations, and where does

Didn't get a meeting notice for 2146 Madrone.

it end?



We donH ask anything of the valley residents and they shouldn't ask anything of

Jerry Baker

Coastal commissions are an example of.regulation that takes too much time to get


There,are a lot of issues and distrust.

Spoke of and compliinented a Plarming Office counter staff who strived to give

Need to extend this project and give it due time.

correct information.

Need better mapping.

Replacrnent of a house after a casualty or just due to age is important.

Differences between lower ridges and horizon forming,ridges.

Seems like takmg a sledgehammer to kill a fly.

Do you have the legal authority to regulate?
Need to define appeal rights and make for more streamlined planning approval

What:about a cost-benefit analysis, how many parcels affected, cost of the study,

and cost of regulations.

What are the costs of added.permits.
Who on the Board started all this?

process at the counter.

Doris Whitney

Almaden Road resident.

Staff should talk to the Supervisors about representing us. Supervisors all live in

Most affected are older property owners. Will have a big impact on us.
Given aU the economic hardships facing the County and other priorities, put this

cities and don't respect us.

study on the back burner at least.

Tina Boales

Long time owner.

There are enough restrictions already.

Extreme environmentalists are behind this study.,

It will result in more illegal building, and I'll have more comments at the future
meetings for west valley hillsides.


The summary of public speaker comments has been compiled from extensive staff
notes and is not intended to serve as a fuU meeting transcript.
2. Additional comments may have been provided on speaker cards and on survey


forms. Some were extensive. Comments made by means other than spoken

testimony will be conveyed to the Board of Supervisors by a separate summary


other manner to be determined.



March 28,2006 Viewshed Protection Commixnity Meeting

Morgan idill Community Center

Speaker Comments:
Jon Pershing

. .


• Cumulative effect of viewshed study and Iiutiative will have major impact on

property rights and values.

• What if both are passed and make some properties unbuiLdable, has anyone
considered that possible outcome?


• Represents Hillside Association for property owners
• Concerned about remodels. Would a Tier 1 approval apply also to additions:to smaU


• Asked what is the defmition of a legal building for rebuilding policy.

• More info needed on the purpose of the August-September hearings.
• Do we really trust the government to look out for our interests?
be concerned if the Board

• Staff proposals have some balance, but everyone shouldregulations.
pands the scope and nature of the study and possible



cases good regulabons and
• Property rights are the key concerns of realtors. In some
become too restrictive also,

guidelines could add to property value, but could also
no telling how these processes could turn out.

• As with the Williamson Act process, process and public meetings are the key.
• Stated opposition to further deed restrictions.


• Mentioned the importance of amateur radio to conamumty disaster response. When

community asset.
ceU phones and land Lines are down,amateur radio is important

• Don't restrict antermas and strive for adequate public-private
Tony Kingman


• Addressed property development on ridge areas. Ah current assets m his current
home on a ridge.

• Current policies are working and adequate.

• If there is no allowance for ridgeline development, would definitely affect values.
• Coimty doesn't need more rules.
Laurence Krumm





• Lives on Cypress Ridge. Seven homes on that ridge, but only one received a
community meeting notice.
• Asked where is the "valley floor"?

• Stated that there are problems with the process and methodology.

• Board members should be attending the community meetings.

• Board as a whole should step up and represent the rights of the minority, the
hillside property owners.


• Cited Sierra Club publication and statements that the new tihreat to hie.enyironment
is from "rural sprawl." Are.they referring to our property? The Board is
empowering the environmental groups, not
• The County should take pictures of the views from the hills down to-the valley, not

just from the valley up to the hills.

• Look at:the City of San Jose development of the Evergreen Hills and.Silver Greek
hills. These areas have just as much if not more impact,but neighboring rural,

property owners don't get to judge those developments or address their visual
impacts. Needs to-work both ways.
• In my neighborhood,I pass a property on my way home vdth cars in disrepair, and
other junk. I don't like it, hut I respect his right to maintain this way.
• We can't and shouldn't trust the Planning and Building Department. It's too hard
now to get development permits. ,

• Neighbors should help evaluate and judge development. He and others lose their
views to a neighbor's new house or addition.

Robert Littlejohn

• It took me 17 years to obtain permits to build on my property near Chesbro Lake.
Spent more in fees than I should have had to.

• Big developers get to build millions of homes and government will not give the little
guy a break.

Mike Vancil
• Doesn't trust staff.

• Many properties may not be affected by current study,but what about the next
time? The ever increasing regulation.


• I have 10 acres above the old Hill County property, now Fry's golf course on the
southeast of Morgan Hill.

• Concerned about the constant creep of additional regulation, such as the mcreases m
minimum lot size over the years.

• Strikes me as "eminent domain" or property seizure by regulation, if lot sizes keep

going up to the point you can't build a house on property.

Rick Moncrief

• Williamson Act and other Coimty regulations do chase away potential buyers,
which does affect property value.

by my estimation 6 miles from the
• My property is in the viewshed, near a ridge, and discerned.
nearest point on valley floor from which it can be
the valley floor, but the maps
• I can't see my property very well from that point on
which I cannot understand.

show it as being red, the highest visibility rating,
• The appearance of a house in the hills makes not a hill of beans difference to anyone.
Should weigh in the distance factor in your mapping analysis, but you didn't. Feels
like just a way for staff to add more controls.
Ridgelines are not really the important factor in addressing visual impact.
Sometimes it is the optimal place to build and mitigate impacts.

If a home is on the ridge, trees and other plantings can be more effective mitigation

and sooner than one lower on a hillside. On a 30% slope, any trees that are planted


for screeiung will be at a greater distance from the home and take longer to grow to
any substantial height to-serve as screening. ^

Also, many ridges are backdropped by other hillsides, or ridges. There is no
difference between developing on one of those ridges backdropped by other hills
than building on the,side of one of those hills.
The pictures staff showed on the hillsides, some are from urban areas with unsightly

power lines, and other subjects uglier than anything built on the hillsides.

The real motivation for this study is to create inhibitors to good development not to
improve development.

The fundamental question is if there is a right to scenic resources, and why do you
the County think you own it? The notion that it is a public right is nowhere

There is a real estate law term called "open notorious adverse possession,


someone openly asserts or takes the use of some portion of your property long
gh without challenge, you may lose the right to prevent it. It seems the Coimty
is trying to take over our rights and.establish the equivalent of a view easement over

our properties, and if we don't fight it now, we'll lose the right to fight it in the


Clarence Stone

• Representing the Htilside Association.

• Only property owner appointed to the stakeholder meetings staff mentioned.

• Need everyone to stay vigilant.

• We are a disenfranchised minority in the hiUsides. The Board is not watching out for
our interests.

• We are the caretakers of the hillsides, more so than the environmental groups, and

we are now being asked to turn over a portion of our rights. I ask you to stay

informed and contribute to our efforts to deal with the viewshed regulations and
fight the Initiative.
David Frazier

• Definitely affects our rights.

• What about economic feasibility. County services are being cut, but new regulations

will affect property values, which reduces the tax base if only smaller homes can be


• Land values at time of transfer are dependent on the cost of regulations and perimts.
If these reduce value, eventually the property must be reassessed.

• If the Cotmty gets sued over these regulations, that will waste valuable tax dollars
defending the County.
• Application fees will only increase.

• Regulations and costs are the 600 poimd gorilla at the table year after year.
Rita Grogan

• Live outside Gilroy. Never really politically involved in county policies until
Williamson Act issues.

• You can go to the County Planning Dept, and ask the same question of different
people and get a different answer from every
• Will agricultural accessory buildings and structures be included in viewshed
regulations? Or exempt? Bams don't usually look beautiful.



Will fencing we need to keep other properties safe from animals be regulated?

Will granny units be affected?

We see bright lights of the valley floor, from such places as driving ranges, Costco
and Lowes.


Biggest concern born of problems being in limbo for years while County sorted out

the Will. Act issues. If viewshed protection or similar regulations,also put people in.
similar Umbo,shouldn't do it.

Should grandfather older uses and buildings.
ColUer Buffington

• I'm in the process of purchasing property in south coxmty.

• I sense a certain inevitability about the viewshed regulations, and it may be easier to

ride the horse in the direction its already going.
• As far as house size, I don't think it's anyones right to restrict house size. If there are
to be restrictions on house size, be Uberal in what coimts towards floor area> to

enable porches and decks, eaves, and other features that make good architecture and
don't penalize those features. Otherwise you end up with boxy designs no one

Jenny Derry

• Process is very important. Enjoys being amidst "country folk" and their common

• Important to get your input directly to the Board. Don't wait for the pubUc hearing,
by then it may be too late. Contact your Board directly by phone or email which is
available from County website.


The summary of public speaker comments has been compiled from extensive staff
notes and is not intended to serve as a full meeting transcript.


Additional comments may have been provided on speaker cards and on survey
forms. Some were extensive. Comments made by means other than spoken

testimony wfllbe conveyed to the Board of Supervisors by a separate summary or
other manner to be determined.



3/30/06 Viewshed Protection Community Meeting Summary
Quinlan Community Center, CupertinO; CA
Speaker Comments:

I'm a 23 year property owner in the hillsides. Presently have 37 acres in Saratoga

lulls. I have a list of puzzling.issues and comments:
. There are enough tough regulations and zoning new,,so what is the purpose ot
toughening regulations?




i^ o

Home replacement issue. In the case of fire or other disaster,
be able tonew

could make it worse. Fear would be that people not
. Deed restrictions. We live in a Htigious society, and use of recorded deed
restrictions to record conditions or permits is a bad idea. Don t do it. Neighbors

and open space groups will sue to enforce.



Illegal building. There is lots and lots of illegal buildmg gomg on now. County

should enforce what ordinances you have now,not donation
make newtoones.
the Board to see if

We have even considered making a sizeable check/

that would get our issues more attention.

Ted Halunen

• Saratoga hills property owner for 40 years.
for them ever.
. Seen many zoning changes over time, but no compensation
. We fear being squeezed out of our property if there axe new regulations.
centers and urban

• My view of the vaUey is now compromised by new shopping

County focuses on the
. sSf s°pe^of taking distance into account, butnow,
if the we
fear it s ]ust a matter of

properties in the first mile or so from the valley
time before the regulations will be moved out to encompass properties five miles
or more distant.
. r -l
This is just another way to spend more money and drive up costs for homeowners.

Frans Vanwyk

,. , ,

Property on Montebello Road at a high elevation

. Increasing property values (appreciation) are now a very important part of our
financial plans and future.
• Disappointed that no Board.members are courageous enough to come to these

community meetings. Send staff instead.


^ r,



We take it as a show of disrespect for property owners,^d hope the Board treats
the special mterests and environmental organizations with the same disrespect.

In all the studies,I haven't seen a statement of the problem. No problem

• How many residents of the cities have actually asked for these changes? Just
elected officials?
-,.1. ..u
. There is nothing wrong with the buildings that are

valley areas.

We are good stewards of our lands.

. , ,. i


There are no similar regulations for properties in Cupertino s highest ridges (lands

in city jurisdiction).



Cotmty has no legal right to affect my property value. These proposals are to the

point of being abusive of government power;

S.W. Seidman

Property owners well understand the radical environmentalists agenda.

We have some.owners who have been residents of Montebello Road for a hundred

We are the stewards of our lands. We open culverts. We volunteer to help prevent
years or more.




o tu

Would the environmentalists do the same to protect and care for these areas? They
would rather see the hillsides burn than see homes on them.

Should precious tax doUars be wasted on these studies and regulations?
The current regulations are adequate.

Sharmon McElyeh

I have nothing against open space preservation. My great grandtather

In 1998 I bought property in the hillsides. I have had nothing but bad luck
financially with other properties up to the present.
There is open space nearby, but ifs not accessible yet. Would be nice if it were.



Fremont Olden and our family instrumental in preserving open space.

My home is a 1910 home and I have two old barns. This property is my only

financial asset. Td like to fix it up and improve it.

As to being a steward of the area,I have saved a number of lives since livmg up m

the hiUs We share wells and water, help injured hikers and cyclists, even car
accident victims. If no one can afford to Uve and build in these areas, who would
be there to help others in need.

If new laws come,no one would want to buy my property.

Home maintenance is expensive enough without new regulations. If regulations
are so

burdensome that there is no incentive to keep up or improve property, then

all suffer.
Debee Lockie

If regulation reduces our ability to sell property, how will the county reimburse
losses to property owners?
to reduce our taxes now and

There is more and more illegal building and this whl make it

How will the County reassess property valuations
pay past compensation for lost value?
. How will the County address illegal building if it occurs? Will taxes be spent

prosecuting offenders? Will enforcement costs go up?


Montebello Ridge owner,four generations. In that time, we have seen a lot of
changes on the valley floor.

'.r ■.


Whaf s with all the rezoning stuff? What's the compellmg reason? Is it a safety
is 8x10"^
How do we measure the view? It always varies, with the climate, the season, the
location from which we see the hills from the valley floor.

Zoning should protect our view of the valley floor, but it's too late for that.



Question should be how do we build partnerships, streamlining the- building

process and permit process, how generate revenues and prorhote housing supply.
Regulations tend tomake it.impossible to improve one's .property, ahd if that leads

to devaluation, then what?

there is a lot of money spent on County parks as open space,but they're not worth
the money just for a-few to hike or bike on trails.

I'd like to propose a radical reconsideration of the study—the hillsides are not in




Instead, we should streamline permitting, increase density allowances to.provide

wineries, and
for more units, provide financial incentives for heritage farms,
our hillside areas as

vineyards, and do the things that strengthen and develop
• i ii
Regulations shouldn't be just about cosmetic issues.
provide community enhancements and promote choices,

Nancy Fellom

Cousin to previous speaker.

I want to build my dream home on a ridge. Been savmg for 25 years, and I don t

I want to make it energy independent, with solar panels, a windmill, and other
Will they allow it?
improvements, but hw do I do that with these regulations?
not "developers".
Most of us are like me,a simple home and property

want a mansion, but I do want a home with a good view.

Patty Cassidy




I'm astounded that this study is being undertaken by the County.

Why should I have any say in what others build or do with their
we should make
I don't agree with the statements by the PliUside Association
some accommodations for this study and future regulations.
I don't support any additional regulations or design review zomng as there are
many existing restrictions now.

Minimum lot sizes have increased from 5 to 20 acres over the years.
We cannot add secondary dwellings.

Paint color controls obHterates property owner's rights.
There is considerable fire hazard in these hills and we need 30-100 feet for fare


, ,

• i

Lighting: we look on bright Hghts of the car dealerships andDon't
uses, they use spothghts to advertise and draw customers.
exterior lighting if we aren't going to control lighting
We have huge tax bills, bad fire protection, no sheriff patrols and no adequate
services for oiu roads.
I'm indignant at the bad services we get, but that

regulations. It's already too expensive to get development approvals and permits.

Tony Ciraulo

Ilivefour miles from Saratoga on Hwy.9.


i .

It's hard now for people to have homes. I feel our property rights are bemg
infringed upon. But this is extreme.
As an example of the undue burdens of current regulations, I have a document for

a development approval caUed a Negative Declaration for a neighbor. It's four


pages of environmental regulations and mitigations [note: possibly for.grading


^ i


Landscaping requirements are already a condition.of this approval.
We.'are an already environmentalists, and we.dori't need tke Coxmty to teU us how.
Parts of the hills are already very low density and space—^how much more

I suggest that there are better things to be workmg on: eHmmahng trees with oak

can you ask for?





funSs to protect our landscapes,.but the environmentalists don't want that; The
County has transportation, highway maintenance issues, and housing affordability
issues, Viewshed, what a waste!


Referred to a letter from the open space organization.

He and others plant trees, plant vmeyards, and improve property.

go through this agam?
We went through this with the "-dl" 9-10 years- ago, why
To save money, Coimty should start with the Coimty

, 1 -n
j 1
• Wants to know who's really complaining about the hillside developmentI

Supervisors should travel some to get famihar with other places where hillsides

are built on, perhaps Italy or Greece.
Some have called this a liberal agenda, but it's not a Hberal agenda,it's a fascist

We have no sewer, no water service, little fire service.

theft, a federal crime, and the
Viewshed protection is a phony issue. We have mailhiUs"
authorities respond that "those thmgs happen m the
County shouldn't teU us how to build or what color to pamt our houses. County
should talk about poor roads and bigger problems.

Aaron Levenson

I don't see many very large, highly noticeable homes.

we reviewmg it?
"-dl" zoning is worl^g m west valley hiUs, why are
there is no need for
Current regulations are havmg the desired effect,
additional restrictions.



i j

I want to provide everyone with a dose of reality. If either the Viewshed

You probably won't be able to rebuild exactly what you have now and where,it it

Things get more restrictive year after year.

regulations or the Initiative goes mto effect, you land will be devalued to the pomt
you have to sell it.

, i

doesn't meet current septic and other regulations.

Mike Makmen




I own 100 acres. How did the study get in the 1994 General Plan? I question the

validity of that policy, and bet it wouldn't have been supported by a majority of
county residents.

Aesthetic judgments are not a valid basis for regulation
Study should be halted as quickly as possible.


Bohlman road, and received no notice, but County has no trouble finding
us for taxation.


1. 1.1

The Supervisors won't get an adequate report from you, Mr.Shoe. It will probably

complaints. The
be along the lines of"We heard community and property owner
will stop us.
County has the ability to add regulations, and notbing^they
Proceed with the study and consider new regulations."
„ ,
the 14“^_ amendment.,
It affords

Tve been looldng at.the Constitution, particularly

equal protection under the law, but this is discriminatory against hillside property




Will similar zoning.apply to valley unincorporated areas.

We bought our properties, and they don't belong to the valley floor


Resale values should not be poisoned by your rezonings.

You are stealing the value of our property without due process.
We know the ultimate goal is to make our properties worthless, to have pristine
hills and buUdoze our homes.

Jeff Weintraub


. ,

Want to kaow who made it imperative for the Board as an issue?
Who is the final arbiter of what is beauty in hiUsides?

sq. ft. I submittedj plans
I bought a piece of land with a little house of about 1,000
for design review, and now I'm afraid I won t be able to build.
• ft property becomes valueless,I'U still have to pay ^e
the mortgage.
hiUs, and 111 fight to the

• My
intent is to build a beautiful home,not destroy
death to be able to do it.

•^\he Supervisors
have sent you staff here,in their stead, and it m^es me upset,
homeowners do a lot for the environment and society, without receivmg
We as

much in the way of services.

People overwhelmingly don't agree with the study or regulations. Please make
sure the Board hears that statement.

Take into account the law of unintended consequences. Make gradmg allowances
easier to help reduce visual impact[???]
t., n ,
There should be no recording of permits or deed restrictions. It s just a way for

neighbors to sue neighbors, and Midpeninsula Open Space
devalue our property.

. .


will sue us all to


We want a written guarantee for rebuilding what we have.

• Study and plans are an overreaction to a few sore thumbs, bad examples of

It's been blown out of proportion by the Board of Supervisors, and it s a waste of
The Viewshed,like the Initiative, is driven by paid lobbyists for environmental

iMuenced by them. I'm
wSTtremely disappointed that Supervisors are sosheeasily
has abandoned us and
disappointed in my district Supervisor, and I feel


doesn't care about our issues or concerns. She is.only concerned-that she doesn't
cross a line of causing a taking, and won't ever get rny vote again.
The "-dl" ordinance and regiilations are plenty; and we don't need more

standards. It's alright to relax the rules for small projects and exemptions, but

don't apply more regulations to small to moderate buildings that,are a long way

away from the valley.
Peter Mullen





I escaped from a-communist country, and I'm grateful to be m America,the
greatest country on earth.
However^ our politicians,and. bureaucrats act too muen like tnbse in my old

country. This is just plain tyranny.
Should make such regulations apply countywide or not at all.
There are beautiful houses in the hiUs, and they look nice from near or far. It's the

dense housing in cities that is an eyesore, and most of the valley is ugly.
The goal is to devalue land to buy it for open space or redevelop it by greedy

Buy it for fair market value if you want it.
Can you and the supervisors spell "r-e-c-a-1-1??

developers with high density.






I worked in agriculture, and we built our own houses. We wanted to hve m the

hills, sold everything to do so, and built on a vacant property. Now we have been
through it all, and obtained all needed permits.
The permit fees for my driveway alone were $42,000. We put in our own well and
septic system. The inspector for that road didn't do much for the money. Drove it
twice. It took two years in the permit process.
I want our kids to live there and build another home and have the lifestyle we
want for the hillsides.

Why make it more and more restrictive? Who's driving these issues? We abide by
the rules and permits, but who is driving these issues?

Nancy Carlson

I find myself in the position of being an.environmentalist fighting
environmentalists. What is the rush with the process?
In 2000 we chose to keep our property when we could have sold it for
development for a lot of money.

The only change for the worse in the hills are mountain bikers who have no regard
recklessly and carelessly
for property or others, who ride in open space preserves
for others. These people are not stewards of the land, it's these "so-called"
environmentalists who want these regulations.
They want to control views from local roads and parks. Where will it end?

Clarence Stone

Staff here are just the messengers, who have been given a certain job to do. But we

As to acquiescing, yes, we are probably going to have to give up something, but
we need to protect our rights, keep the zoning the way it is, but I fear we won't

aU need to get more involved.



,We need your financial assistance. We hillside property,owners are a

disenfranchised'minority, and we only have the Board,of Supervisors as our
elected officials.
i. d j
These measures are driven by enviroiunentalists and we need votes on the Board

is to be active.
of Supervisors. The only way to get these pushed backNature.
It wiU have much
There is the PLAN,People for Land.and

worse impacts than the Viewshed Study. The website is to

find out what they want to do with your property.






Tve been to the two other meetings. Td just like to add to those comments a story
about my son. He was in school and was asked what's wrong with ^e houses m
the hills? His friend Uves in a condo in the valley. That friend sees the hills as

many of us did years ago, as a place of refuge, sanctuary, and yes a place to Hve.

Hans Johsens


These meetings should be in our neighborhoods.

The Viewshed is an absurd idea. We aU Uve in someone's' view.I dislike the
valley hghts at night, and I'm entitled to that point of view.
We have 1500 feet of house on a 20 acre property, and it's just a speck on the


VaUey homes are aUowed to cover a much greater percentage

and I should have the same right,


, ti j


Stvles colors, architecture, the Marin Civic Center is by Frank Lloyd Wright,and

it's on a ridgeline and very distinctive. I don't care for it, but it's my op^on only.
Taxes,I spend more time and money on maintenance
of a public road than the
of my neighbors.
County does, as do many,but all I get is the thanks

I told a speeder to
Had occasion to call the Sheriff about speeding motorcycles.
me. Sheriff never showed

slow down,but he came back and personaUy threatened

I waited once 45 minutes for a sheriff deputy to respond to a biuglar darm at our
school. Lakeside. I don't caU that service. It's not the deputy's fault. I blame the
Board of Supervisors.




I am against all additional regulations. It's unconstituhonal.

Allan Baumgartner

. ...
Color of hiUs changes as we know. Why do all your pictures show green hms,
when for most of the year they are brown to golden? Cattle grazing caused the

brown hiUs vegetation.

, .

Fire hazards. The environmentalists want the hills green and then they pose


of a fire hazard.

In earthquakes, the hiUs are safe, but the valley lands are the danger zone.

The quality control of your work is bad. I'm at 1,200 foot elevation, on your hst,
but rny neighbors properties are more visible and not on your lists. This won t
survive a court challenge.
Moral integrity. I want responsible government, but I have lost respect tor



• Illegal building is rampant and beGoming the standard. 80% of real estate

disclosures indicate some manner of iUegal building, Inviting.more illegal

building the more restrictions we have to work with.
Speaker from Audience:





Our president says he gets lots of reports, but that he doesn't read.them. How will we
know that the Board of Supervisors actually reads or pays attention to our comments
and concerns?

Staff response: You must ask. Contact Board offices. Staff can only provide recordings
and summaries, not make anyone read them.

1, The summary of public speaker comments has been compiled from extensive staff
notes and is not intended to serve as a full meeting transcript.

2. Additional comments may have been provided on speaker cards and on survey
forms. Some were extensive. Comments made by means other than spoken
testimony will be conveyed,to the Board of Supervisors by a separate summary


other manner to be determined.



Viewshed Protection Planning

Review of Responses to Survey Questionnaires

of the three Viewshed Protection Plan
Staff provided a survey questionnaire to attendees at.eachMarch
30,2006. the
community meetings held on March 23, March-.28, and
survey questionnaire were generally consistent with,the spoken comments made dunng those
same meetings. The overall response to viewshed protection planning was negative. There were
slightly more supportive responses in the written comments than in the spoken comments, but
supportive responses were few.

the written comments supplied on the
TSevlew summarizes the responses to the survey topics,
comments supplied on the speaker cards,
questionnaire to two open-ended questions, and written

The survey questionnaire responses were tabulated and are attached to this review. This review

supplements the summary of spoken comments previously made available to the Board of

Supervisors offices, posted on the Santa Clara.County Planning Office website, and attached to

this transmittal.

Survey Questionnaire Details

, , ,

< j

The survey questionnaire elicited opinions on six pohcy topics, ^d asked two open-ended
questions. Respondents had the option of stating an opinion of“Favor”,“Disfavor” or
“Neutral” to the eight policy topics listed on the survey. Topics 3a and 3b concerned options for

the subject of house size hmits from
ridgeline development policy, and 5a and 5b addressed
such as tiered review processes.
either a strict limit or through procedural concepts

by the category
The results of the two open-ended survey questions are grouped
^ of concern
• i,

and methods of expressing them.
expressed, as best as possible given the diversity of concerns,
each comment was counted separately, so

Some provided comments on a range of concerns, and survey respondents. Comments written
the number of comments is greater than the number of

on speaker cards were integrated in with the open-ended survey question responses.
than one meeting. Others altered the
Some attendees may have filled out surveys at more control
for those factors.
questions or topic statements. This review does not
Analysis of Policy Topic Opinions

, j ^ rx
The survey topics were based on pohcy and regulatory considerations presented to date. It was
intended to provide attendees with an additional means of providing specific input than just by
are shown in the attached
way of public testimony. The overall results ofthe surveys
average of 33 /o favorable
spreadsheets. Overall, topics 2, 3b, 5b, and 6 together than theanalternatives.
The single topic
responses These topics presented options less restrictive from the design review
process for
receiving the most favorable responses was #6,“Exemptions
floor”, with 54% of &e
development on portions oflots clearly not visible from the valley
received only 8 /o
responses being favorable. The four most restrictive-sounding

favorable responses. These were 1, 3a, 4, and 5a.

Viewshed Survey Results


May 23, 2006, ATTACHMENT B

These overall results would be even more unfavorable if they were adjusted to account for edits

their response. However,the variety of edits
made by respondents to the policy topics as part ofwould
be impossible to account for all the
^d changes to the survey topics was so diverse, it

Some commenters noted that the pohcy topics were referring to what kind of features a viewshed
protection plan should or should not include, rather than on whether there should be a viewshed
the premise ofthe policy topics
protection plan at all. Some ofthese commenters rejected
validity to the premise.
entirely, declining to give opinions on them in order
Analysis of Responses to Open-Ended Questions

Overall those providing responses to the tWo open-ended questions on the survey were more
plan study than they were about
concerned about the principles behind the viewshed protection
of comments centered on whether the

the plan and study itself. The overwhelming majorityand the fairness of such a plan, rather than
County could or should be making such rules at all,
the technical details of scope and implementation. This focus of concern was.consistent across
all three meetings, and was also consistent with the spoken comments. Of the 215 surveys
submitted, 161 had comments, and only 10(6%)of those surveys’ comments tended to be
supportive or at least constructively critical.

About two-thirds ofthe comments mentioned specific issues such as property rights, Uansfers of
wealth reductions and transfers of property values, equal treatment, and the undesirability of any
whether the County had the nght to
additional regulations. The.concems were mostly about the
should do so even if it could,
impose this degree of development restrictions, whether and County
and whether the restrictions created a balance of burden benefit unfairly distributed between
hillside property owners and valley floor property owners. Some commenters directly

protection plan proposal, with various
questioned the political values embodied in the viewshedand
aspects of the proposal being described as un-American unconstitutional.
ofthe proposed plan,
The second most prevalent set of comments were about specifics
where extra Momation or
recommending elements to include or exclude, and pointing
research might be appropriate. Approximately 15% of comments were about details of a
viewshed protection plan.

The third most prevalent set of comments had to do with process and transparency. Many

commenters asked where the idea for a viewshed protection plan had come from,and many
others were disappointed with the amount of notification about the community meetings

by which the viewshed protection
Approximately 10% of the comments were about the.public’s
process attention.

plan became an issue, and how it was brought to the

“There is no problem for &ese
The single most common comment category was the category
is not broken, don t fix it ,
rules to solve”. This category included comments such
“What problem are these rules trying to solve?”, and “The existing regulations are adequate .
Almost 10% of all comments were of this nature.

Viewshed Survey Results


May 23, 2006, ATTACHMENT B

Responses to Survey Questionnaire

Santa Clara County VIewshed Protection Planning Community Meetings
Summary of All Meetings


>plvlnq certain

The use of aesign review

standards and guidelines for case-by-case review of new
deveinnment In affected vIewshed




, 9%


Proposed exemptions from the design review process for moderate
sized homes foerhaps those no larger than 4,50Q square feet).Lhjt
meet other set criteria for color and massing? This "tiered"
review approach would allow more focus on larger mors


: 11






visible homes.


Pnnripc;-that generally prohibit location of homes on the ridgellne.


niess there Is no other possible location^




standards fot

Policies that allow lidaellne development with mitigations and
Exterior lighting controls to reduce off-site


nioht lighting.


House Size limits In the affected vIewshed areas.
Tiered review process or other incentives to

mass of build!



127. I








n90% •









. 19








• -79% •








• 8





address size and


ih rthsolijte limits

Exemptions from the design review process ror deveiopment on




nnrtinns of lots clearly not visible from the valley floor.







- • -35% -



Total number of respondents: 215
% Favorable

% Favorable Responses, Oupstlonnalre


Least Restrictive Questions (2, 3b, 5b, 6)
Most Restrictive Questions (1, 3a, 4, 5a)



Summary Statistics


Total Surveys Returned
Total Surveys with Comments


Surveys with either Supportive or Constructively Critical Comments



Total Comments


Percent Comments Referencing Impact of Government

Most Referenced Comment Category; "No problem, to solve with these rules .


Most Referenced Concern; "Role of Government".


May 23, 2006

Responses to Survey Questionnaire

Santa Clara County VIewshed Protection Planning Community Meetings
Summary of All Meetings




Property Rights





open space thereby
IZtsTrl ri'^dr—^y good stewards of thewhat
land /notprovide
to build,
neighbors or general public








' 20.7%


Safety aside, only owners should be able to decide


Regulations affect Investments, Savings In house, value of house



Limitation of rights to develop



Not allowing rebuilding Is an Illegal taking


No rule changes or value transfers / must compensate

View Rights


No right to (a vIew/restrIct development) unless you buy It


New homes nearby Impose upon existing homes views


What about view of valley from hillside homes

Against any new regulations, ordinances, rezonIng, deed restrictions


Role of Government


Undesireable expansion of Government/ where Is limit?

too restrictive, or current hillside
problem to solve by these rules (existing rules are adequate, or

developments are reasonable)


Government attempt to restrict development / other Gov t motives


Don't trust Gov't

Renresentatlon and Egual Treatment




Incorporated areas v. unincorporated areas

Should'motlie^^ny more^restrlctlons than for other citizens and owners and jurisdictions
Arbitrary and subjective (definition of beauty)



. May 23, 2006

Responses to Survey Questionnaire




Clara County VIewshed Protection Planning Community Meetings
Summary of All Meetings

Define underiying legal authority for Implementation
VIewshed Is a planning concept, not a legal right
More notice of meetings, open staff meetings










This meeting was held just so that residents could yent
Supervisors should attend these meetings / not Impose these restrictions




Staff arrogant / Incompetent


Do comprehensive Cost Benefit Analysis

Who will pay for cost of Implementation / compliance / fees


Maintenance costs imposed by new development
Impact on value In other communities



Need more study and Input


Better parcel mapping of those affected


Clarify ridgetop, landscape, fire protection Issues
Redo / get neutral party to do valuation analysis



Questionnaire skewed and biased


Relationship to watershed program



Better meeting facilities




Background Info oh how this Issue came forward





What about existing unpermitted / noncompllant work


Cost of Enforcement


Retroactive enforcement / Grandfathering


Need reasonable safeguards on how rules are applied


May 23, 2606:

Responses to Survey Questionnaire

Santa Clara County VIewshed Protection Planning Community Meetings
Summary of Ali Meetings






Focus only on most obvious lots
Put limit on how far back from valley floor rule apply
Size, Color (seasonal?),
Grading &. retaining walls & fences





Density / lot size (both more and less)


Ughts (both valley and hills)


Skyline v. rldgellne


Money better spent on roads / parks
Hills are for homes, valleys are for Ag / Hillside development can be beautiful
Height limits (restricts design options)
Secondary Units and Agricultural Accessory Structures


Design Review



Appeals process




Not Decks and patios: they reduce lawn and water use

Permit Process


Current rules too cumbersome and restrictive
Specific Issues






Neighboring property / access and trespass


Park development


Visual impact of the "Taj Mahal" Mosque In San Jose
A landfill near 101 has highly visible white tarp—worse than a big house.






May 23, 200.6

(b).Coiisisteiit wi& other provisioiis of tMs Plan,the County may incr sase ihe m^ura-floor
area by up to 40'OOb.8(piare.feet,in aggregate,for.a^culmraI;emplby^

nbnresidendal.buijldings ^sential for permitted a|^<ndtaml services, stf]
flTiiTnflt facilities., mining,waste managenient^ camp^,museuins,and.putloorredreatibii auxiliary,
uses. The County inay increase the fpr pernutte i agri^

packaging,storage and usei and.for goyenuneht

public utility buildings.

Section;16. yisual.Safegusffds

(a) New or reconfigured parcels shall be formed to minimize the visib lity of development
from public places.'Unless there is no other possible cpnftgurartion, pan els may not be created
Or reconfi^red so that they have no site fPr each permissible building o her than a ridgeline or
hilltop, as perceived from:pubJiG places.

(b)Development and alteration ofland surface shall be subordinate to and bJend harmoniously
with surrounding natural and open space pualities. Unless Oiere is no lej s visible site on a parcel,
buildings may not be located on ridgelines or hilltops or where they will project into an.upward
or horizontal view of a ridgelihe or hilltop,as sePnfirom public roads or ?arks, or on slopes of

3Q%.or more(measuired according to their naturd imaltered state). Stru(tures generally shall be

carefully sited,including by setbacks,to minimize their visibility from pablic roads andparks,to
the extent reasonably practicable and not definitely inconsistent with* oth sr exis.ting policaes of

this Plan. Subject to the same limits, preservation ofnative vegetation,I mdsc^ping,building
materials and design,including height,,mass and color,shall miniinize tl e visibility of
development and surface alteration from public roads and parks.

Exterior lighting, including roadway lighting, shall be designed and plac ed,if possible,,to

confme direct rays to the parcel or roadway where(he lighting is located and to protect the
darkness ofthe night sky. Signs may not be more numerous,larger or m ^re noticeable than is

essential to provide directions and information about permissible uses in the designated Ar^ or

adjacent areas, and for political campaigns,and shall accord with Scenic Roads and Highways

policies. To the extent reasonably practicable, consistent with other poli< ies of this PI^ roads

and driveways shall be located and designed so that they minimize adver le visual impact as seen

from public roads and parks.

(c) Visibility of development and surface alterations from public places, parks and roads shall

be determined from a reasonable,representative sample of vantage points in those public places

and parks and along those roads that will accomplish the objectives of thi s Section.
Section 17. Definitions

For purposes of the Initiative, unless the text or context Indicates a differ jnt meaning:
Appreciably” means measurable or perceivable, and not minor;

“Building” is any structure with a roof having a floor area of 120 squs re feet or more,except
greenhouses and tanks;


Position Paper
Sanfa Cl^ Ciovmty HillsideEAssociation. ,

TlieSMta craraCoirnty.Hmside Associatioa l)oaid iuis Been ravolved:]vnth the cpiin^r
Dlanhing dMJartment as they prepare9land use ordinance proposal foritne county
board ofsupervisors.. The following key areas of concern that could yyersely impact
private properly values in the hilisidra. This information is for
^pert^wners who
attend public meeting orofheiwise express their concern to.elected opcials.



Summary ofkey positions;

A) Scope of‘‘Yiewshed” as defined by the planning department ^d ^he ordinance limited to parcels visible from urban areas on the valley floonj
BV Structure placement and.Size mUSit not be rwtricted if visibility f om the valley
floor is reasonably mitigated. Remodel and replacement ofl^e
or bet er stractures at
building site without burdens ofanew ordinance must be allowe|d.

ofthe cjounty and not
Q Enforcement of ordinance provisions must benotthebeburden
property ownere: Recorded title-restrictions shall

Details of each position:

A)Scope of“Viewshed”

see Ifillside AssociaUon's position is the scope of Viewshed^odd bea View from

the Valley Hoor Only-The scope ofthe present planning staffeffortjhould be
to visibUitv of hillside homes and buUdings.from within two njiles ofthe
valley floor.It must not include hillside visibili^ from toad comdors ir P“bhc are^Nor include placement and permitting issues that are parttmlafc reWed tothe

that is not visible ^m the valley
floor should be exempt from all viewshed provisions.
of-riewshec along wth
Hie county is considering the concept of multiple levels
reducing restrictions.on lower tiers hi exchange for more scrutiny on 4ore visible
tiers Distance from fte valley floor must be recognized as an e^mely impoi^t
factor in lessening visibility impacts and resulting in less intensive revfew and less
need for mitigation.

The see Hillside Association believes that special inter^t ^oups waht NO
development whatsoever in the hillsides-or anywhere else for thata pejrfect
There is a

“no development

ballot initiative circulating in the county and is

ofthat fact and their clear intentions.

Nonetheless,the hillsides have been protected because property owneis have

protected them (unlike the valley floor)and now hillside prppt^ owr ers^being
punished for our good deeds. Worse yet,our Viewshed from the hills to ^e v^l^
floor is a horrible mass ofvisible development dunng the d^ md refl si^ve li^ts
night it is ironic that what hillside property owners will never have a^ain, is what the

doubt it. is really, the valley
■valley floor residents want - an undeveloped-view.of We
interests . .
floor residents pushing for this ordinance instead special from
the valley floor.
The scope .of the ordinance must remain, Viewshed as.seenof "Viewshed
to any View
Some special interests would: like to expand the concept
but that was not

the direction mandated by the County Board so we expect

planning department should hold firm on this position.

B) Structure placement aind size
structure such that the
see Hillside Association supports placement of a proposed
owner has full discretion within applicable setback requirements. The County is not to
have any authority to dictate choice of site based on vidwshed; only the authonty to

require appropriate visual mitigation. Some sites on a parcel may require less

mitigation than others,

see Hillside Association supports reducing restrictions on lower tier visibility parcels
in exchange for.more County scrutiny on more visible parcels. For example, returning
maximum house height to 35 feet and allowing for more below grade pdmg could

greatly help and provide incentive for owners to build homes which minimize
visibility yet are architecturally attractive,

in non^visible tiers (parcels
see Hillside Association supports reducing restrictions
non-visible houses, increasing

outside the viewshed) such as no sight approvals for

house height maximums, below grade construction, and other incentives in exchange
for more restrictions in more visible tiers.

The see Hillside Association also supports a pre application and consulting review

ground rules are and
by County Planning Staff. If property owners knowserve
the process
those ground rules are clearly defined, it can only
to permit requests.
allowing property owners to get a predictable response

The see Hillside Association opposes limiting house size. House height and size

the valley floor If there's ample
(within reason) are never indicators of visibility fromplane
heights, stepping, texturing ,

thought to mitigating visibility factors such as wall can be reduced sufficiently. There
landscaping, paint color and grading, the visibility it is hardly worfh requesting
have been so few large homes built in the County that
such a restriction. House size - square feet of enclosed floor area - is not, by itself, a
viewshed issue. People on the valley floor cannot see floor area. The only relevance of
floor area is as a veiy gross approximation of structure size (bulk or mass). As such, it

may be convenient in setting the threshold between tiers for various intensities of

review. However, it should not be used to regulate or judge visibility; wail plane area
is much more relevant.

Building Height-The present restriction on building height (30 feet) can be self-

defeating and lead to unattractive designs. Staff suggested returning to the 3 5-foot

to lessen visibility
height limit and concentrating on breaking up wall planetheareas
height limit as a
impacts, see Hillside Association supports increasing stay reasonable.
sensible approach, as long as the wall plane guidelines
see Hillside Association supports story limits of two stories above grade and a

basement, even,if the basement daylights on the down-slope side of'.the stnicture. ,

There, flexibility to allow more floor levels as part of a stair-stepped,
conform-to-the-slope and break-up-wall-planes design strategy.
The see Hillside Association opposes a total prohibition on any ridge line

development arid any restriction by itself which is. simply a disguise to prevent

someone from building, or re-building, their home on their property. Ridge-line
stmetures that are designed with visual impacts from the valley floor
should definitely be allowed, even encouraged. Ridge lines and spurn are.often the

only sensible, safe place to put a.structure. They can have less visual impact than

hillside sites for two.reasons:: If a building is set back from the shoulder of the hill,
this decreases its visibility from the valley, floor due to screening by the shoulder and

vegetation located in this.setback area. Also, the overall vertical dimension ofthe

structure can be less since it is not spread out up and down the hill. .Second and

subsequent ridges and hillsides are to be recognized as having less visibility impacts
and deserving less intensive review and less need for mitigation.
Grading -The present County grading policy(minimize grading) can be and often is
counterproductive. It needs to be reconsidered to provide the opportunity for more
grading when appropriate. That could occur to better situate a driveway or house to
the site, improve the value to the owners of the developed use (arid the County’s tax
base), or lessen visual impacts (for example by partially setting the house or the
garage into the hillside).

Retaining Walls-Retaining walls that are large and visible can often be avoided or
mitigated through a screening, stepping, texturing, and coloring strategy. Careful
design should be encouraged, recognizing that retaining walls can have advantages by
reducing grading volumes, reducing visible cut and fill surface areas and preserving
native vegetation.

Light Reflectivity Value(LRV)- Paint reflectivity requirements seem to be a more
important consideration for sites with less natural vegetation for screening.and get
more direct sun during most of the day. Thus,they may deserve a requirement of less
reflectivity than is applicable to other areas. As an example, in the -dl area where the
allowed paint reflectivity(LRV=60) has prevented visibility complaints and
therefore was an appropriate reflectivity number.

Vegetation for Screening- Use of vegetation for screening should be encouraged for
the flexibility of allowing site development that might otherwise have undesirable
visual impacts. The County now has mechanisms in the permitting process for
requiring a landscaping plan, designating landscaping features that are considered to
be mitigation, and noting the obligation of property owners(present and future) to
implement, keep, care for, and replace (if necessary)these special items. No more
regulation is needed or deed restrictions for enforcement.
Electric Lighting- Interior lighting should not be included any ordinance. A
sensitive, common-sense approach to exterior lighting (in the form of guidelines) can

plish everything that is needed. The most important thing is to install the lights

so that the bulbs are not visible from the valley floor. This can be achieved by careful

placement ofthe lights, using low wattage bulbs, and/or by screening the bulbs from

valley view. Willi thls.approach, any rejectiQn or prohibition of extenor lights (e.g.
for tennis:courts)should be unnecessary.

C)Enforcement of Ordinance Provisions

Deed restrictions put on title were proposed as a way for private property owners to
enforce other property owners to comply with

The SC.G.Hillside Association
landscaping intended to reduce visibility of structures.enforce
zomng ordinance
strongly opposes deed restrictions as.amechanisih to
provisions and believes having more restnctions en titles would
solve _ can^ be
Lforcement problems. Deed restrictions cloud the title and,environmental
aSrasTechLsm for neighbor's to.sue each other or even
by the
suing property ovmers over deed restrictions. The issue
for:the environniental community

Cou^t? ofeating regulations. Creating a situation he disastrous for everybody,
to sue property owners over deed restrictions would
Mid Pen etcJ have.
Including Eolty. The enviroomeatal conununitythey(POST.
have an interest in deed
well kno^wn histoiy of suing their neighbors,and so


The see Hillside Association opposes the use ofstory poles to indicate visual impact
ofstnictures in the hillsides. First of all, they are an extremely
and can not be seen from the valley floor. They were also proposed 'dl were
removed as an option. Since -dl, there has not been any problems in &e West

Hillsides regarding proposed building sites because -dl mandated notice to adjoining
property owners. Interested property owners, after notice,
has inspect
and astory
die County and attend site approval meetings. That process
poles are simply unnecessaiy and too expensive so the SCC Hillside Association

opposes them and supports notice to adjacent property
owners^ Ifthe puipose of story
poL is more local (for neighbors), it is beyond the scope ofthe viewshed report and
should not be included within any proposed ordinance.

Association opposes
Computer-Based, Visual Simulation-The SCC Hillside from
the valley floor to a
computer-based visual simulation for assessing visibility
a wide angle or
hillside parcel. It is simply too easy to play games want to portray).
telephoto representation, depending on the result you
The design
pordaying the effect of distance is absolutely vital
without including biased and

and permitting process is difficult and expensive enough
misleading information.

What to


Public Government Meetings

Have a copy of the agenda to follow along. Sometimes agenda topics have

fixed start times. You may exit and enter the room quietly during the
meeting; The agenda is posted on our website.

What you should and should not do:
Do Listen carefully and take notes on subjects you are concerned about

and/or what to learn more about. This.Will help us prepare for future meetings
with the planning department when public input is scheduled.

Don’t do anything to anger or insult the Board of Supervisors such as
clapping, booing, hissing, shouting, etc.

Don’t offer conspiracy, theories such as the Board siding with others or that

the Board is out to get the property owners without notifying them.

Do be as polite and professional as possible given the emotional nature of

the topic.

not an effective
Don’t center your arguments around property rights issues that
should be

approach with the Board. Focus on issues and information
considered as part of the process.

Do talk about how the proposed zoning ordinance wijl affect you personaJLy.

or a drive to end their
Don’t try to threaten the Board with expensive litigation
survived many
politicafcareers—these are seasoned pros and they
and undermine our efforts.

such attacks. It will only anger and alienate them

form and stay in the
If you want to testify regarding an agenda topic fill out the
room. The chairperson will call for you when testimony is beingi taken. Note
the time limit. Try to give first hand information that is missing from staff
reports that merits consideration as part of the process of considering an
ordinance. You can see the staff reports for this meeting on oUr website.
When asked to speak, address the Board as: “Chairman Kniss and members
of the Board of Supervisors” then give your full name. Speak only for
minutes allowed for testimony,

Santa Clara County Hillside Association
P.O. Box 202

Campbell, CA 95009

About the

Santa Clara County
Hillside Association
The Santa Clara County(SCC)Hillside Association members are private property
building ^stnctions cowners who will be affected by any. ordinance that changes
for the attected
hillsides The objective ofthe association is to provide
influence the
property owners to understand what the county is considering
outcome for the benefit of hillside property owners, the environment and-hillside



The association was started by several hillside residents who have donated tune and
property owners in the
money to fund and notify the Santa Clara County private
further restnct the use of
hillsides who would be impacted by ordinances that
their properties.

The SCC Hillside Association is a non-profit organization.
to the
influence government agencies, politicians and policies donations
Association Can not
Association are NOT tax deductible. The SCC Hillside

guarantee the outcome of the ordinance process will satisfy all property owners.

The SCC Hillside Association is funded by donations from private property ovraers

ate unpaid and
affected by proposed ordinances. The association board of duectors
ofthe land use details.
volunteer their time to provide information and investigations

our website, hires
The board raises money, collects and provides information on
of the details of land use

experts to help understand and inform association members

Association costs include mailings, website, consultants and evaluatiohs of the

technical language in the ordinance by engineering firms. Won't you consider
helping the Association? Send your donation to:

Santa Clara County Hillside Association
P.O. Box 202

CampbeU,CA 95009

Report on the status of a viewshed protection study.


James T. Beall, Jr.

Content Type


Resource Type





District 4


Valentin Alexeff, Director, Department of Planning and Development




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